Through Japanese Eyes

The new edition of Through Japanese Eyes offers source readings that present Japan through the eyes of a diverse set of Japanese people. Editor Richard Minear examines specific themes through (mostly) aptly selected short......source readings, along with brief and pedagogically valuable introductions. The book successfully achieves the stated "dual goal" of "offering great readings about Japan that also stimulate thinking about the United States." While the specific readings selected are always open to subjective debate, Minear chose a thought-provoking and varied selection that forces consideration of the nature and plurality of identities of Japanese people and are usable for students with a variety of reading levels. Minear displays a rare sensitivity for the pedagogical needs of teachers through his selections of readings—original yet provocative brief essays on topics ranging from a statistical comparison of the U.S. and Japan, to textbook interpretations of Japanese history, to his deftly written introductions to each reading. The editor’s introcutions are sophisticated and, given the excellent questions raised about how to use documents and literature, useful even for teachers who have no intention of using the reading selections. For example, in introducing selections to three novels, Minear asks the reader: "If you were a psychologist or an anthropologist and had only these words as evidence, what picture could you paint of the authors, their values, and their society?" And this: "What other evidence would you like to have before painting your picture?" This edition of what has long been the best pre-college reader on modern and contemporary Japan updates the collection and adds thought-provoking questions to guide students in learning about Japan and the Japanese, and about themselves and their own society. Here are the voices of real people: athletes, politicians, pollution victims, working women, and cell-phone using students, as well as Japanese Americans. Teachers will find this book helpful in their most difficult and important tasks in teaching about Japan: making it real and interesting rather than exotic, and fostering awareness of the common humanity with which we and the Japanese have responded to the promises and challenges of modernity. —Timothy S. George, Department of History, University of Rhode Island
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Center for Interational Training and Education
New York
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The Japanese view of Japan and the world

Field of Interest/Specialty: AP World History & World Religions
Posted On: 11/26/2014

Amy Swartz
Grades 9-12
Courses: AP World History, AP US History, Global Issues, World Religions
Warrior Run High School, Turbotville, PA
Through Japanese Eyes, written by Richard Minear and published in 2008, presents a thorough review of the various aspects of Japanese life, from both a historical and modern lens. The ten main sections within the book are written to broaden the reader’s perspective of Japan. The main chapters address Japan Today, Japan Before 1850, 1850 to 1940, the War Years, the Occupation, Identity, and Patriotism, Textbooks and the Teaching of History, Nature and Pollution, Gender, Aspects of Life Today, and Japanese Americans. The book contains black and white photographs, political cartoons, charts and graphs throughout, in addition to an index. Readers truly gain insight of the Japanese view of Japan, and the Japanese view of the world.
Like other works in this series, such as Through Indian Eyes which I have used, Through Japanese Eyes is a first-rate resource for teachers and high school or undergraduate students. It would serve as a good starting point for more in depth research on a specific topic. This text could be useful in making cross-curricular connections in economics, sociology, statistics, or global studies course, in addition to the obvious history or cultures courses. One portion of the beginning chapter includes ten comparisons between Japan and the United States. This could be a useful frame of reference to introduce American students to Japan. The text starts with some familiar modern Japanese economic and cultural reference, such as rise of the Honda Corporation, cell phones and other technology. The sections on occupational roles, social position and gender roles were very informative and would prove useful in an anthropology or sociology course or unit of study. The chapter on Occupation, Identity, and Patriotism, and the last chapter on Japanese-Americans provides multiple perspectives of Japanese – U.S. relations which students studying World War II and its aftermath would find significant and useful for discussion. The next to last section on modern family dynamics, education, and technology would allow American students to contrast their lifestyle and culture with that of Japan. One of this resources greatest strengths is to make Japan relatable and accessible to students and teachers.
Through Japanese Eyes would be a most suitable addition for the middle school or high school library as a reference resource or for a teacher’s personal library for lesson development. This text could also be used in an Asian Studies course. It would provide concise and informative knowledge of a range of topics prior to a visit to Japan.